Report by James Franklin , Reporter
Monday, July 16, 2012
NORTH Somerset Council is ‘selling off’ Weston’s seafront to developers, say concerned councillors and residents.
The authority intends to sell off a piece of land near to the site of the former Royal Pier Hotel, with developer Wahid Samady saying a deal has been in place for months for him to take it over as part of plans to turn the former hotel into a residential complex.
The potential sale of the land – which measures just 0.01 hectares – has led to concerns that a much-larger-than-expected development could be created along the northern part of the seafront, potentially affecting amenities such as the nearby Prince Consort Gardens.
One ward councillor, John Crockford-Hawley, said: “As far as I’m concerned this land is the promenade, and what right does the council have to sell the promenade off to speculative developers?”
The councillors say they only learnt about the sale of the land through a public notice which appeared in the Mercury.
Another, Robert Payne, said: “I think it is outrageous that the council is acting in such a devious and underhand way, and pushing these things through in secret.
“Not only has there been absolutely no consultation with local residents or anyone who may be affected, but those who rule the council in such an autocratic fashion haven’t even the courtesy to notify the ward members of what is going on.”
Mr Samady’s blueprint for the former hotel site was approved in September.
He said: “It is a very small bit of land that has been part of previous discussions and has always formed part of planning applications for the hotel site.
“We are working with the council over the development for this land, and I am determined to find a solution that is mindful to the sensitivity of the area.”
A council spokesman said the authority had been approached by a developer over the piece of land, and placing a public notice was normal practice when the authority was considering disposing of public open space.
He said: “The notice makes it quite clear that people can object and any objections will be considered when we reach our decision to dispose of the land or not.”
The objection period runs out on July 19.
The council and Mr Samady have both denied there are any plans to develop Prince Consort Gardens.
Mr Samady added that he would welcome any suggestions for the Birnbeck Pier site. You can send your suggestions to email@example.com